After returning from our lovely visit in Nebraska (another blog I need to post), Mr. Speedy and I hosted our first formal family dinner with my family.
I could barely contain my excitement. Our first time hosting Christmas! Our first Christmas in our new home! Our first time cooking a formal feast! Our first time using the fine china!
If you have hosted a meal, I am sure you felt the pang of panic the day before as you prepared everything. The grocery list, how many extra chairs are needed, what type of linen should be used, and how many bottles on wine should be bought. The key to this whole process I found was actually planning the meal and preparing ahead of time, rather than day of the event.
Kind of like planning the wedding- get as much done ahead of time, and it’ll be smooth sailing.
The day before, the following was done:
- Set-up extra seating
- Plan out meal, go grocery shopping
- Chop and slice all ingredients, set aside
- Measure out dry ingredients, set aside
- Bake all desserts (if possible), set aside
- Prepare all table linen, menus, etc.
That last bullet – which is totally not necessary unless you are a decorating freak like me – is something that I went a little crazy on. For Christmas, Mr. Speedy bought me a Prima Press Alphabet Stamp set. AMAZING GIFT. Little did he know how far his $20 present went because I got it in my head to handstamp out EVERYTHING. Name cards, menus, bar list, dessert labels, and appetizers. I think I stamped for about 3 hours straight and had ink all over myself, but it was SO worth the effort. They looked simply fantastic:
Another little extra I found for only $1 at Michaels, were Christmas themed cupcake toppers and cocktail napkins. How awesome are these??
Moving on, I also wanted to FINALLY use some lovely gifts we got from our Nebraska bridal shower. Our gold plate chargers and water pitcher were both gifts from Mr. Speedy’s mother and were perfect. All the fine china was used for the first time, a family heirloom from my Nonna. The candelabra was a gift from my parents. How exciting it was to mix items from all over, to create a formal atmosphere:
What did I cook???
All recipe are SUPER EASY (I promise) and very tasty. Some recipes are pre-made others are made from scratch. Enjoy:
This ham is super easy – it is pre-cooked and pre-glazed from the store. Although this may seem like cheating, it is not. Your guests will never know and you can tell them that you actually went out and hand-picked the pig that is now on the table and watch their mouths drop. To heat this up, wrap it up in foil and put in in the oven at 350 degrees for about 1.5 hours. So juicy and tasty.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP
Just like the ham, this was a pre-made soup. All I did was pour it into a saucepan and heat up. If you are really ambitious, then feel free to make it from scratch. DON’T JUDGE ME FOR SERVING THIS.
BALSAMIC CRANBERRY BRUSSEL SPROUTS
(Makes 8 servings)
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
3 pounds of brussel sprouts
salt and pepper
3/4 cup dried cranberries
First, make the balsamic glaze. You can do this early in the morning, and set it aside for later.
- Pour vinegar and sugar into a small saucepan and bring to boil over medium-high heat.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 15 minutes, or until the sauce thickens a bit (might need to add sugar).
- Remove it and set aside.
- Rinse sprouts and slice them in half (I did this the day before).
- Spread them in a single layer on baking sheets.
- Using a brush, brush olive oil over them all and then sprinkle salt and pepper to taste.
- Roast for about 25 minutes at 400 degrees, or until they are crisp and have some brown leaves.
- Pile them on a large serving tray, sprinkle the dried cranberries all over the top.
- Slowly pour the balsamic glaze all over.
GARLIC (ROSEMARY) ROASTED POTOATOES
6 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 Tbl. rosemary, minced
1 stick of butter
6 pounds of fingerlings potatoes (assorted colors), keep skin on but wash
salt and pepper
2 Tbl. fresh parsley, minced
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Mince the garlic , rosemary, parsley – keeping them all separate. (I did this the day before).
- Melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat, then add rosemary and garlic.
- Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Arrange potatoes on baking sheet and coat with butter mixture.
- Roast them for 40-45 minutes.
- Arrange them on a large platter, add salt and pepper, and sprinkle parsley over the top.
CHOCOLATE COVERED STRAWBERRIES
Please note: These are not very pretty as I completely messed up melting the chocolate. Still edible, just not pretty.
24 ounces of semisweet chocolate chips
6 ounces of white chocolate chips
2 containers of strawberries
- Grab a baking sheet and layer it with parchment paper.
Melt the semisweet chocolate in a glass bowl with the microwave OR in a saucepan.
- Dip a strawberry into melted chocolate, rolling it to coat all sides.
- Lay it on parchment paper.
- Repeat with all strawberries.
- Let chocolate harden on strawberries for 30 minutes in a cool area (I put mine in the freezer but you could put them in a garage or outside, if cold enough outside)
- Melt the white chocolate and using a butter knife, dip it into white chocolate and then drizzle designs over the dipped strawberries.
- You could also re-dip the strawberry into the white chocolate, to add another layer of yumminess.
- Decorate the remaining strawberries with the white chocolate.
- Let harden for 30 minutes as previous done in step 6.
- Serve them on a pretty stand! Or pack them up and give away.
RED VELVET CUPCAKES
Ha. These were store bought. No way was I going to make cupcakes from scratch, along with frosting. The package I bought from the store INCLUDED frosting, so it was obviously the perfect buy.
Sorry for the long post, but there you have it. I think I might make those brussel sprouts as a traditional side dish every Christmas. It is fun how every family does their own traditions with meals. Mr. Speedy’s family has chili and cinnamon rolls on Christmas Eve. Does your family have any traditional meals during the holidays??
Hope everyone had a lovely Christmas!